Monday, September 5, 2011

Easy Grape Salad And Labor Day

Happy Labor Day! Here's a refreshing salad that's easy to make on this day of rest.

Method: To some torn red and butter (or Boston) lettuce, add an amount of chopped red onion that you'd like, halved green and red grapes, a little sprinkle of extra virgin olive oil and rice vinegar (but not too much - the brilliant flavors of the delicate lettuce and juicy grapes speak for themselves), pepper to taste. Toss and serve!

Labor Day
To many, and to us as well, Labor Day marks the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year. But Labor Day is also a day that I remember my pepere who worked as a weaver in a textile mill and reflect on the history of the labor movement.

This picture of my pepere hangs on a wall in my home and I absolutely love it. He labored hard and weaved with pride. His strong work ethic was admirable.

Here's part of a Robert Frost poem, The Lone Striker, that I also love. It was written in 1933 during the time my pepere worked as a textile weaver:

"The swinging mill bell changed its rate
To tolling like the count of fate,
And though at that the tardy ran,
One failed to make the closing gate.
There was a law of God or man
That on the one who came too late
The gate for half an hour be locked,
His time be lost, his pittance docked.
He stood rebuked and unemployed.
The straining mill began to shake.
The mill, though many-many-eyed,
Had eyes inscrutably opaque;
So that he couldn’t look inside
To see if some forlorn machine
Was standing idle for his sake.
(He couldn’t hope its heart would break.)

And yet he thought he saw the scene: The air was full of dust of wool.
A thousand yarns were under pull,
But pull so slow, with such a twist,
All day from spool to lesser spool,
It seldom overtaxed their strength;
They safely grew in slender length.
And if one broke by any chance,
The spinner saw it at a glance.
The spinner still was there to spin.
That’s where the human still came in.
Her deft hand showed with finger rings
Among the harplike spread of strings.
She caught the pieces end to end
And, with a touch that never missed,
Not so much tied as made them blend.
Man’s ingenuity was good.
He saw it plainly where he stood,
Yet found it easy to resist. . . ."

Labor of Love
Labor Day is also a time when my garden begins to rest after working hard all summer long. This year, some plants didn't do well, some were more challenging to maintain than others, and some, especially the zucchini and cucumbers, were very happy growers. Every year's a surprise!

Looks like this zucchini drank a little too much! We had a bumper crop of cucumbers. I harvested baskets full, shared with neighbors, and came up with creative ways to serve them. We were surprised at how wonderful this cucumber agua fresca tasted!

The watermelon almost made it but their vines weakened during tropical storm Irene and they couldn't hold on.

Heirloom tomatoes were a challenge to grow, splitting often just before harvesting, but not the roma tomatoes which are still growing strong.

The last cucumber of the season is a September surprise! Bell peppers just said their goodbyes. Eggplants are making their grand entrance.

 Everbloom strawberries are working hard to ripen for one last show.

Busy local honey bees seek out nectar in late-summer budding sedum. I think they're my friend's bees, a beekeeper a few houses away . They make me smile.